Going holiday shopping this weekend? If you are shopping for a cook, cookbooks are always a good idea. Previously, I posted about NPR's selection of top cookbooks for 2009. For some additional ideas on what books to look for this holiday season, check out Caroline Russock's post over at Serious Eats where she sets forth her top cookbooks of the year. Below I've listed a few alternatives and additions to those identified by Russock.
First, Russock lists 660 Curriesby Raghavan Iyer. This is a large cookbook with, as the title states, recipes for hundreds of curries. Although it is an interesting book, 660 Curries is probably overkill for the occasional Indian cook. My suggested alternative: Quick and Easy Indian Cooking by Madhur Jaffrey. This is a slim volume - important with limited shelf space in the kitchen - with a nice variety of dishes that are delicious and easy to prepare.
Second, Russock suggests Well-Preserved: Recipes and Techniques for Putting Up Small Batches of Seasonal Foods. As a newbie into the world of canning this year, Well-Preserved is a book I will check into. If there is a cook on your list who wants to try canning, consider purchasing the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving. In addition to recipes, this book is loaded with the basic information that the newbie needs to know. It is the definitive book to read before beginning home preserving, in my opinion.
Third, Russock lists three specialty books,How to Roast a Lamb: New Greek Classic Cooking, Japanese Hot Pots: Comforting One-Pot Meals, and Real Cajun: Rustic Home Cooking from Donald Link's Louisiana. Specialty books do make interesting gifts. I'd add to the list two books that are special, but offer a lot of variety. The first is The Food You Crave: Luscious Recipes for a Healthy Life by Ellie Krieger. Krieger's recipes for healthy food are amazingly delicious - I highly recommend her book. The second is Craig Claiborne's Southern Cooking, which has hundreds of wonderful, traditional Southern recipes - literally from soup (gumbo) to nuts (sugared pecans). It's a cool book to give someone who loves cooking and good food.
If you do give a cookbook this year, add a small kitchen tool or gizmo to the present to spice up the package a bit. Or consider giving a small cooking tool along with an Amazon Gift Card so that the chef can select his or her own book.